Making fake Japanese food at Asakusa’s Kappabashi ‘Kitchen Town’ district in Japan
You know those beautiful replica food samples you see outside Japanese restaurants? There is an area in Tokyo, Japan where you can find a lot of them. I visited the Kappabashi ‘Kitchen Town’ district in Asakusa, Japan last year to make some of these food replicas myself at the Ganso Shokuhin Sample-ya, Kappabashi Showroom.
Kappabashi Dougu Street is located in Tokyo’s Taito City, along the west side of Asakusa’s main entertainment district, and just midway between Ueno and Asakusa. Merchants first began gathering in the Kappabashi area around 1912, selling old tools and a wide range of implements and hardware.
Today, one can find just about every kind of restaurant equipment imaginable, including bakery equipment, foreign tableware, laquerware, restaurant equipment, packaging, containers, decorative goods, “fake” food samples, chefs’ coats, signs, noren (shop curtains), bamboo wares and much more. The street stretches for about 800 metres in length, with over 170 shops, It is Japan’s largest shopping street devoted to kitchen implements.
Ganso Shokuhin Sample-ya is one such specialty shops in Kappabashi. They have been producing plastic replicas for display in restaurant windows since 1932. Recently, they started running workshops for both domestic and foreign tourists to make their own food replicas to take home.
Here’s my creation of three pieces of tempura and a cabbage:
You can register yourself for one of their workshops next time you are in Tokyo. The prices vary, depending on the type of food replicas you choose to create.
My workshop costs 2160 yen per pax and you get to take home your creation. An English instructor is not always available, but a lot of the instructions can be easily understood via hand signals or are intuitive.
We start with two tank of liquid – water at 42 degree Celsius and wax at 60 degree Celsius.
The fried coating on the tempura is made using the liquid wax, dipping or dripping them into the cooler water tank.
Making the tempura pieces are easier, whereby you just drizzle the wax on the water and wrap the solidified wax around the items.
The cabbage is made fully out of wax and requires much more skills. Many steps are involved:
I like how after you cut the completed wax cabbage into half, it looks even more like a real cabbage!
The replicas can last about one year if you keep them away from direct heat or sunlight. They are not to be stored in refrigerator where they will become broken.
To find out more about the workshop, visit the official website for Ganso Shokuhin Sample-ya.